St Mirren 1 Aberdeen 2 as Sam Cosgrove seals the points for Dons

In gruelling conditions it seemed inevitable that the game played out in Paisley would be in synchrony with the freezing rain which fell from the heavy overhead skies. It was not pretty but it was effective as Aberdeen took all three points from St Mirren to leapfrog Hearts courtesy of a second-half winner from Sam Cosgrove which gave the Pittodrie side all the warmth they needed.

"It was a really scruffy game," said Aberdeen manager Derek McInness. "We didn't get it all our own way. There wasn't much in it but we just about deserved it."

The Pittodrie manager, though, believes that the quality of performance has not been helped by the volume of games that the league have scheduled for December.

"It is nuts," he said. "We have had 9 games - 8 league games and the League Cup final. We played 14 in four months. So 14 wasn't enough. Now we are playing more than half of that in one month. We agreed with Jim McIntyre and Dundee we would push the Dundee game back to January but the league would not allow it. So we do what we are told and get on with it but it is a game every three days for my players."

For St Mirren, it was another chance lost. Oran Kearney’s side remain rooted to the foot of the table and the Irishman’s body language at times betrayed the pressure of the position. The Saints manager was embroiled in an on-going debate with the fourth official throughout and then could not hide his irritation when the referee blew the whistle to signal the game was up believing he had been robbed of some vital seconds.

On this evidence, St Mirren could have played for some time without scoring. On an afternoon when there was little between the teams it was St Mirren’s lack of bite in the final third which proved to be their undoing.

Aberdeen had taken the lead just after the half hour mark from the spot after debutant goalkeeper Dean Lyness had punched a Niall McGinn free-kick over the bar but from the resultant corner Alfie Jones seemed to tug the jersey of Andrew Considine and referee Greg Aitken gave the penalty. Stevie May duly dispatched it for only his second goal of the season.

“I haven’t seen it back but I wasn’t 100% convinced on a day like today that it was a penalty,” observed Kearney.

To their credit, St Mirren forced their way back into it. Cammy MacPherson, no relation to St Mirren technical director and former manager Gus, netted his first goal for the senior side when Adam Hammill’s free-kick found a way through the Aberdeen defence. As the ball broke to MacPherson in time and space he took his time before sending his effort past Joe Lewis to give Saints a lifeline back into the game. It proved short lived after Cosgrove restored Aberdeen’s lead just past the hour mark.

For Aberdeen, though, the seven wins from their last ten games has elevated them back up the table. Remarkably, the Pittodrie side were 13 points behind Hearts just seven weeks ago and have now leapfrogged Craig Levein’s men and still have a game in hand.

If there was a silver lining to the cloud for St Mirren it came in the form of keeper Lyness.

The keeper was signed in the summer on a short-term deal until January and was handed the gloves with Danny Rogers ineligible to play against his parent club. Lyness pulled off a decent save from Andrew Considine in the build-up to what proved to be Aberdeen’s winner. As keeper punched the header onto the bar the St Mirren defence were caught ball-watching as Cosgrove pounced to convert the rebound.

St Mirren scrapped to haul themselves back into it but Aberdeen safely saw the game out.